When intra-governmental relations turned sour – the US-Fed Accord – Part 2

In Part 1 of this mini-series – When relations within government were sensible – the US-Fed Accord – Part 1 – I examined the pre-1951 agreement between the US Treasury department and the US Federal Reserve Bank, which saw the bank effectively fund the US Treasury. The nature of that relationship, which began when the central bank was formed in 1913, changed in 1935 when the legislators voluntarily chose to change the capacity of the currency issuer to buy unlimited amounts of US Treasury debt directly to one of only being able to purchase the debt in the secondary markets once issued. But the effect was the same. The central bank could control the yields at any segment of the bond maturity curve at its will. The shift in 1935 was the result of conservative forces that were intent on derailing the government’s capacity to use the consolidated central bank/treasury to efficiently advance well-being. They wanted political constraints placed on the Treasury, such that it would have to issue debt to the non-government sector before it could spend, which they knew was an arrangement (similar to formal debt ceilings) that could be used to pressure the government towards austerity. By the time the Korean War ensued, these conservative forces were winning the political debate and big changes were to come, which would limit the fiscal capacity of the US government to this very day. The result has been an inefficient fiscal process prone to capture by conservatives and certainly not one that a progressive would consider to be sensible. I analyse that shift post-1942 in this blog, which is Part 2 in the series. In Part 3, we pull the story together and reveal what was really going on.
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    Posted in Central banking, US economy | 2 Comments

    Travelling all day today …

    I am travelling all of today to the US for the MMT Conference in Kansas City which begins on Thursday. I hope to see some of you at the conference which will be a major development in our program of work and advocacy. From there I am onto London for the British Labour Party Conference presentation (Monday) and the book launch of my latest book (with Thomas Fazi) Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Tuesday – see below for free ticket access). For details of all the events associated with my speaking tour in the next fortnight see below.
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      Posted in Admin | 3 Comments

      When relations within government were sensible – the US-Fed Accord – Part 1

      I have all that much time today to write this up and it is going to be one of those multi-part blogs given the depth of the historical literature I am digging into. So this is Part 1. The topic centres on an agreement between the US Federal Reserve System (the central bank federation in the US) and the US Treasury to peg the interest rate on government bonds in 1942. What the agreement demonstrated is that a central bank can always control yields on government bonds, which includes keeping them at zero (or even negative in the current case of Japan). What it demonstrates is that private bonds markets, no matter how much they might huff and puff about their own importance or at least the conservatives who are ‘fan boys’ of the bond markets), the government always rules because of its currency monopoly
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        Posted in Central banking, Fiscal Statements, US economy | 18 Comments

        Jean-Claude Juncker in denial and somewhat delusional

        Last week (September 13, 2017), the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, presented his State of the Union Address 2017 in Strasbourg before the European Parliament. My only query arising from the speech was which Member State has left, given that the President began his speech by thanking “the 27 leaders of our Member States” (joke). He opened by saying how unity among the Member States had “showed that Europe can deliver for its citizens when and where it matters”. I wonder which Planet he was referring to. I thought Europe was on the Mother Earth and it certainly hasn’t been delivering for its citizens, if the usual measures are considered. Juncker’s speech just continues what I considered to be ‘Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale’, which was the subtitle of my 2015 book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale. It is amazing that the denial continues after 10 years and that guys like Juncker can still command an audience and a salary.
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          Posted in Eurozone | 7 Comments

          The Weekend Quiz – September 16-17, 2017 – answers and discussion

          Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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            Posted in Saturday quiz | 8 Comments

            The Weekend Quiz – September 16-17, 2017

            Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blogs I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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              Posted in Saturday quiz | 9 Comments

              Australian labour market – a relatively stronger result for August 2017

              The latest labour force data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics – Labour Force data – for August 2017 shows that total employment growth was relatively robust (up 54,200) with full-time employment growth accounting for much of that increase. Unlike recent months, where if full-time growth was positive, part-time growth was negative (and vice versa), both components of employment rose. Further, the participation rate rose by 0.2 points as job opportunities expanded. Labour underutilisation overall (underemployment and unemployment) was at 14.1 per cent summing to 1,842.8 thousand persons. The teenage labour market showed further improvement but remains in a poor state. Overall, my assessment of the Australian labour market is that it still to early to conclude that the uncertainty of the last few years is giving way to sustained growth.
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                Posted in Labour Force | 2 Comments

                Paradigm shift – not from the CORE Econ Project – as mainstream as you will get

                Next Friday (September 22, 2017), I will be presenting at a panel on developments associated with the proposed MMT University and our new MMT Macroeconomics textbook, which will be published by Macmillan in April 2018. The panel will present during the First International MMT Conference, to be held in Kansas City. In part, my contribution will be to discuss the general pedagogical concerns that we (Randy Wray, Martin Watts and myself) had as we wrote the textbook over what turned out to be several years. We were confronted with the situation that we want our textbook to be used as widely as possible in the first and second years of a typical undergraduate program, but also didn’t want to fall into the trap of compromising what we considered to be a unified body of theory based upon Modern Monetary Theory (MMMT) for what other colleagues (particularly, mainstream academics) would claim to be necessary material to prepare a student for the labour market. We now have what we believe is a very strong two-year sequence in macroeconomics, firmly founded on MMT principles, with a good balance between discursive narrative, historical context, empirical challenge, and formal (mathematical) reasoning. When one compares it to other post-GFC developments in the pedagogy of macroeconomics, some of which have received the headlines in the past week, I think the curriculum embodied in our text is progressive, consistent, and doesn’t fall into the typical neoliberal default regarding governments and the monetary system.
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                  Posted in Framing and Language, MMT Textbook | 12 Comments

                  The role of literary fiction in perpetuating neo-liberal economic myths – Part 2

                  In The role of literary fiction in perpetuating neo-liberal economic myths – Part 1, I noted introduced the idea that fictional literature plays a significant role in framing false economic concepts and, thus, can promotes neo-liberal biases among the readership, even when the plot of the narrative is ostensibly about something other than economics. In other words, what parades as fiction becomes a powerful tool for spreading ideological propaganda, often in a very subliminal or subtle way. In Part 2, I demonstrate that further and provide correct Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) interpretations of popularised economic statements that the characters in the book in focus (The Mandibles) weave into their conversation as if they are accepted facts. The lesson is clear. To further advance Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) ideas, novelists who are sympathetic to the cause should construct their narratives consistent with the MMT principles, where economic matters are touched upon in their work. This will help to counter the misconceptions that arise in literary fiction when authors engage with flawed neo-liberal arguments about the monetary system. It might also help educate book reviewers who often, knowingly or unknowingly, reinforce the myths in the main text.
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                    Posted in Fiscal Statements, Framing and Language, US economy | 13 Comments

                    The role of literary fiction in perpetuating neo-liberal economic myths – Part 1

                    A few weeks ago I wrote a blog – Reflections on a visit to New Zealand – which began by summarising some research I am working on which will be presented (with Dr Louisa Connors) at the upcoming MMT conference in Kansas City. This specific paper will be examining the role that fictional literature plays in framing false economic concepts and, thus, promoting neo-liberal biases among the readership, even when the plot of the narrative is ostensibly about something other than economics. We show that fiction is a powerful tool for spreading ideological propaganda, often in a very subliminal or subtle way. The lesson we draw from this work is that to further advance Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) ideas, authors, who introduce economic concepts into their writing, should construct their narratives consistent with the MMT principles. This will help to counter the misconceptions that arise in literary fiction when authors engage with flawed neo-liberal arguments about the monetary system. This blog is in two parts and today is Part 1. Part 2 will come another day (soon).
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                      Posted in Demise of the Left, Fiscal Statements, Framing and Language, US economy | 62 Comments